On the edge of Lake Kalote on the outskirts of Mumbai, a stunning contemporary home brings weekend bliss to an art-loving family. Sleek lines, thoughtful accents, colourful furniture and the use of local materials make this light-filled getaway a truly fun yet restful, home away from home.
Kalote is a little village off the old Mumbai-Pune road that is a popular destination for picnickers and weekend homes. A Mumbai-based family wanted to build a spacious, contemporary yet maintenance-free house to enjoy their weekends. With the Kalote Lake barely a minute away, the plot was perfect for a weekend getaway.
KPa, an architectural and design firm with offices in Mumbai and Bengaluru were commissioned to build ‘Mehr’, the house. They had about 5000 sq. ft. of house to work with, in addition to open spaces around the house, which were used as courts and service areas, thus making the most of all available space.
The house itself is drool-worthy. The design is sleek, modern and very open. The common living space is the largest space in the house and this was kept open and connected to all the other rooms; this therefore made it the heart of the house by default.
Right outside the entrance door is a stunning floor-to-ceiling jali panel (latticed screen) that separates the entrance court from the main door itself. The jaali is partly fixed and partly open to aid ventilation.
The main door to the house is hidden behind the jali when one enters the court.The living room is flooded with light thanks to the open-plan design, the length of tall glass panes and the jali panels.
A tall, dark and very handsome wall runs across the space, dividing it, yet looking totally cool and correct. “The dark wall is finished in lime plaster stucco. All around the house are surfaces that will not need any maintenance in the future; all the walls of the house are either clad in fire bricks, ceramic mosaic or plastered with lime stucco that does not need to be painted,” explains architect Krishnan, Partner KPa.
Sliding doors open the living room to the garden outside making it all one big seamless space. Providing a wonderful contrast on the opposite side is a white block that holds the bedrooms. “The white wall is a mosaic wall made out of ceramic tile chips. These are matt-finished ceramic tiles specially made for this project,” says Krishnan.
The lower level of the block is made up of the parents’ room and the home theatre and the upper, glass-enclosed level encompasses the daughter’s room. The glass allows one to look down into the living space.
Upstairs, the drama is substantially increased with the jali panels throwing beautiful triangles of light all over the floor and walls. Two of the bedrooms have jali panels which swivel open 90 degrees providing access to the balconies.
The doors are fabricated out of steel frames with an infill panel which has the jali cut-outs. The infill panel is in three layers with fibre cement boards on both sides and glass sandwiched in the cut-outs of the jali.
The master bedroom is a soothing, airy space that is dominated by the light coming in from the jali doors and the window which looks down into the living room space making the downstairs truly an integral part of the house.
The owners are avid art collectors and one of the biggest challenges KPa faced was integrating and displaying the extensive collection of art in the house. “Creating spaces for the art and making the house very interactive in its volumes was important from the client’s perspective and hence, the open planning. The centrally located living space is almost visually accessible from every other space in the house,” explains Krishnan. With a nod to the family’s love of art, the master bedroom has personalised artwork as a focal point.
The wall behind the bed has the wardrobe and storage units, the shutters of which act as the backdrop for the painting. The client commissioned an artist Neha Bahuguna to prepare this artwork. The art is based on a storyline imagined by the artist, which depicted the family of the client – husband, wife and the two daughters.
Another challenge that KPa faced was working with local contractors to finish the house to the architect’s standards. While the team were expecting to maintain surfaces with exposed concrete, getting the right quality from the locals was quite a task. The room for errors was also narrow since the house does not have false ceilings to hide the electrical conduits. All the electricals were housed in the slab.
One more challenge was to avoid air conditioning the central living-dining space. The idea of using HVAC units was done away with since the whole essence of living in that location was to be one with the outdoors. The large HVLS fan installed in the living room did the trick.
It circulated the air in the whole volume using very little power, thus eliminating the need for air conditioning and a higher energy consumption. Also, the large doors in the living and dining completely opened up the space to the outdoors.
Light, airy, filled with art and elegance and infused with a healthy dose of drama – Mehr is the perfect family getaway.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy Sameer Tawde